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“ATM Tour - Best Tour I've Been On!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mayawalk Tours

Mayawalk Tours
19 Burns Avenue, San Ignacio, Belize
501-824-3070
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$70*
and up
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
23 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“ATM Tour - Best Tour I've Been On!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2013

I used Mayawalk for a number of reasons. They have a presence in their community, they believe in giving back, their price was competitive with the other tour companies in San Ignacio, and I got a good vibe from all the people I talked to at Mayawalk (Jimmy, Aaron, and Andrew). Our tour was scheduled to leave at 8:30, but we didn't end up leaving until closer to 9am because a couple of other people on the tour were running late. I know someone else recently reviewed this tour and complained about this, but I thought it was great! It shows the hospitality of the people in San Ignacio, and Belize in general. In addition, it gave me a little more time to get to know the guide and the other people on the tour, which I found to be a good thing.

On the way from San Ignacio to head to the cave, we made two stops. One at the home of a local woman who prepared the food we were going to eat for lunch (so, a portion of the money spent on the tour goes into her pocket to help her raise her family), and another at a convenient store a few miles from the cave so we could pick up last minute things (water, snacks, etc.).

Once at the cave, we hiked through the jungle for just under an hour seeing all kinds of animal and plant life, and our guide, Aaron Juan, did a great job of showing us the treasures of the tropics. The lunch provided for us was great! Then, after lunch we entered the cave. I've been in caves before, and I love them all, but this one especially was one not to be missed. Aaron knew a ton of the history of the Mayan people, and he had a deep respect and understanding of their culture and their way of life. He did an excellent job of helping a bunch of city-dwelling Americans understand how the Maya used the cave, what they might have experienced in the cave, and the value of this magical place to this historic civilization. He managed to transport us back in time a couple thousand years with his presentation and knowledge. In addition to the history, he pointed out a number of really beautiful crystal formations, insects, and of course bats. The most impressive part of the tour, though, was the incredible preservation of the artifacts and sacrificed individuals. It was a truly memorable experience. By the end of the trip, I felt like I'd made 4 new friends and had a much different and more complete understanding of the Maya civilization.

I've scanned a number of other reviews on here, and I really don't know what other people are talking about.

The cost: The tour was about US$80 or US$85. We left San Ignacio around 9am and didn't return until after 6pm. We spent about an hour hiking in to the cave entrance, about 4 hours in the cave, and about 40 minutes hiking out. The rest of the time was spent driving and eating lunch, etc. In other words, we spent almost 6 HOURS being guided through the jungle and the cave. I think that US$80 is a very reasonable price for a full-day tour to a place that has restricted access, and so much historical and cultural value. In addition, there were only 4 of us on the tour (plus the guide)... I can't think of any tour I've been on that had such a small group!

The timing: Yeah, our tour started a bit later than it was supposed to, and in our case it was because we were waiting for a couple that was running a bit late due to their ride to San Ignacio from Dangriga. But, even it we had been running late for another reason, so what? Welcome to Belize! You're on vacation! Relax, and enjoy yourself. Things in much of Belize move at a slower pace than they do in most of America... it's just something that you need to get used to.

We had no mechanical problems, no sick guide, and no crowds in the cave. In every area that we stopped to look at something significant, we were the only group there. We did cross paths with a few other groups in the cave, but we were never in a "crowd" as some others have described.

Visited April 2013
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Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
83 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“Not the best.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

For what you pay, service is not the greatest. Our guide was kind of surly. He seemed to be annoyed with his job and with people in general. That said, the tour was acceptable enough. I would not do the cave tubing again, although that is not the fault of the tour company. Tour busses arrive from Belize City so the river is jammed with 3,000 people at once. You spend the entire time trying not to bump into everyone else. Felt like a children's ride at an amusement park. Roads are horrible in Belize. Again, not the fault of the tour company, but something to keep in mind. And, as others have said in their reviews, they keep you waiting for 45 minutes before the guide shows up. No explanations, they just show up when they feel like it, or so it seems. I can't say I would not use this tour company again, but I would keep in mind that it is not going to be a spectacular experience.

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Buffalo, New York
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Customer service and guide lacking”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

We booked Mayawalk Tours for a recent trip to the Caracol ruins combined with stops in the Mountain Pine Ridge. Although our pick up at our resort was on time, the guide/van was late and the manager on staff was visibly scrambling to find out where they were. Once we go started, about 20 minutes late, after driving only about 10-15 minutes outside of town, the van broke down. We waited on the side of the road for almost an hour and a half while the driver and guide tried to fix the van and while some mechanics called to the scene tried to fix it. After nearly 1.5 hours, the company finally sent a new van out to pick us up. The tour was rushed at the ruins at at two of the three stops in the Mountain Pine Ridge; only two stops were possible due to the late start. Our guide did not seem too engaged, especially when compared with the rest of the guides out that day, and he spent quite a bit of time sitting and talking about birds rather than climbing up the various ruins and providing information. We were not given any sort of discount for the delay and the rushed remainder of the tour. I would not recommend this company to anyone.

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
mayawalktours, Manager at Mayawalk Tours, responded to this review, April 15, 2013
First and foremost being the manger of Mayawalk Tour Company for thirteen years I confidently and highly recommend that any client chose our company to do transfer services and experience an amazing tour/time with Mayawalk. There is no company in Belize or in the world that does not experience setbacks while on tour. As a reminder most of the roads that lead to various tourist destinations in Belize are not pave. In fact most of the road to Caracol is atrocious. I clearly remember this day. To the client who wrote this email. As part of my job description I am responsible to send out all tours as punctual and as fluid as possible. Most of our tours depart the office between 7 and 7:30am. It is not only one tour that I have to cater my time, knowledge and expertise to. There are many tours that I have to make sure goes out…they include Tikal, ATM, Caracol, Cave Tubing etc. I do not scramble when I am in the office…I cannot be stationary. ..I have to ensure that client’s lunches are prepared effectively, that all pick ups at their accommodation is done on time, I have to purchase tickets for the various destinations that clients will be going to, I have to ensure that our guides have gears in place etc. So it is not a matter of me being disorganize or scrambling around. I just have to make sure everything goes out as perfect as possible. I consider myself a perfectionist. Secondly, as part of the culture in Belize it is known that most tour companies and other entities are not punctual. I do admit that sometimes we are ten/fifteen minutes late but when that happens I do inform our clients we will be a little bit late, I apologize to them and I let them know that their tour won’t be cut short. Furthermore the van that we hired that day was a rental. It rained a lot the day before and the road was slick. I do admit that tour guide did get stuck. Immediately he notified us and we sent a vehicle to assist him and our clients. Unfortunately the area that he got stuck was one hour away from our office and it was in a remote area. As part of the Caracol tour clients do go to the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve to experience the pools and the cave. Two destinations are provided after clients are through with their Caracol tour. Whenever I do my presentation I let all clients know that the focus of the Caracol tour is spending 3.5 hours at the site then they will visit two places in the reserve on their way back to San Ignacio (Rio on Pools and Rio Frio Cave). We do not promise clients 3 places. As far as his guiding is concern we do get great reviews about our particular guide that day. It is really surprising that our client said that he focused a lot on birds. Sometimes clients will book a tour and specifically inform us that they want our guide to focus more on archeology, or bird species… or sometimes plant species or the Maya Culture. It is hard to keep everyone happy. I will definitely have a meeting and speak to all of our guides and inform them they need to create a balance while doing tour and try to suffice all clients as much as possible. Once again we are a small company that is trying our best and comments like his does not do justice to Belize, the tourism industry and those who depend on tourism or Mayawalk in this case to sustain their livelihood. Hopefully this negative review will be rescinded.

Andrew Haylock,
Manager,
Mayawalk Tour Company.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane
Level Contributor
66 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
“Terrible, Terrible, Terrible”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2013

I used Mayawalk for the ATM tour and wish I hadn't. They were late ... meet at 7.30am at their office I was told, but they turned up at 8.00am. The tour eventually commenced at 9.00am by which time the cave was crowded with tour groups.

The guide was unfriendly, rude and cared very little for the sacred site.

It gets worse. The guide, called 'The godfather', had terrible flu and kept blowing his nose into the cave streams. Naturally a few days later we all came down with the flu.

And it gets even worse! 1hr into the tour he asked if we'd had enough, because he was ill with the flu!

And then it got even worse .... their van broke down. No back up for 3hrs.

Caveat emptor.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
mayawalktours, Manager at Mayawalk Tours, responded to this review, April 15, 2013
The ATM Cave is unlike any other tour in Belize. It is highly regulated by the government…they only allow a few guides to do this tour and they cannot take in more than eight clients. Many clients are flocking to do this tour and space is limited. Our two main guides were already busy with groups of eight when I personally rec’d a call from a lodge located about 30 minutes drive from our office. We are all about service and I did not want to refuse or reject the request of the front desk personnel. I mentioned that I will provide the service but that I just need to get another guide since my main tour guides were busy. I did hire a guide who is an elder statesman in terms of ATM guides. He is one of the most experience tour guides in Belize and he is revered. ATM is a demanding cave and it will put its toll on any tour guide. Do factor in that it is a wet and dry cave and the temperature (even thou we are in the Caribbean) remains consistent throughout the year around 20 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately ATM guides are in demand and they pretty much go to the cave everyday…everyday they are in and out of water so it is not surprising that he had a flu or he was sick….everyone in the world gets sick. ATM is another destination within Belize that is in a remote area. There are park ranges living there and if they ask us for a request we quickly and happily comply. That day the park ranger needed to do an emergency run in the village that is 30 minutes drive away. Our driver who is very experience thought that he will be helpful and assisted the park ranger. He did leave his post thinking that he would be back on time. I must admit that he should not have done that because he got back late for our guest. We do apologize but our van did not have a mishap. Belizeans are very friendly people who love to assist without hesitation. Unfortunately it cost us a lot because we have a negative review that I hope can be omitted. I do apologize to the clients but said client know exactly that it is a remote area and I cannot reiterate enough that in those remote areas everyone needs to work as a team…everyone needs to look out for each other.

Andre Haylock,
Manager
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Level Contributor
23 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Great trips... The company, not so much.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

The good: The places you are visiting themselves, they are so awesome it will make up for any frustrating experience you have (I think thats why the reviews on here are so positive). For some reason mayawalk seems to be popular enough you don't have to worry about them not having the minimum to offer a trip.
The bad: Mayawalk is rather unorganized, seems over priced, and they are late late late!

I did ATM and Tikal with these guys... I'll go into detail on both.

Tikal:
I signed up the day before the trip. I was told we were leaving at 6:30am, but that they wanted to leave earlier, and that I should try get there at 6:00, and that a light breakfast would be provided. I got there at 6:00... no one was to be seen... I went to the market to kill time, came back at 6:20... one other person in the group was there. I asked him if he heard there was going to be breakfast, he said no, we were supposed to eat before the trip... so I went to run back to my guesthouse to grab a granola bar and I ran into one of their employees... he asked where I was going, I explained, and he said "breakfast, yes, go back" so I went back... it was now 6:30, everyone was there, the owner or manager showed up, told me no, no breakfast.... so again, I got up to run and get a granola bar or something to eat... came back to find out we still weren't ready to go because they didn't have the keys to open the building so people could pay the balance on the trip. We didn't start walking to the car until 7:00.

They took us to the border... and then handed us off to another tour company on the other side of the border. This is something important to know. If you read good or bad reviews on here for Tikal, you could end up with just about anyone in guatemala... and I wouldnt be surprised if that's the case with the other tour companies too.

If you're thinking of arranging a trip to tikal on your own, know that the border crossing process isn't that bad, and it's not as shady as other border towns i've been to.

The trip included lunch, which was at a restaurant next to a gift shop. If you go to the same place, order the grilled chicken... my fajitas resembled something from a high school cafeteria.

ATM:
I was hoping with the departure for this trip being later, they'd be on time this go around... not so much. I think we were supposed to leave at 7:30- but didn't get in the car until 8:15... their excuse had something to do with problems obtaining tickets, which I never saw. Once we got in the car did we go strait to the cave? No! we went to the gas station! ...it doesn't take a genius to figure out you need gas to get there. I know how "belize time" works... I don't complain when my dinner or my drink takes awhile, or the bus is running late... but if you're going to make me get up early on my vacation, and be the most expensive tour company in town, have your act together!

That aside, the gear was good (black diamond helmets and head lamps), the guides were pretty knowledgeable, and the food was ok. I see bad reviews on here about stale bread sandwiches... it appears they've improved on that. We had rice and beans, chicken curry, plantains, fruit punch and chocolate brownies... and something vegetarian that I didn't eat. At the end of the day there was beer, rum punch and soda waiting at the car.

My only issues with the trip was the fact we couldn't take pictures (but that has nothing to do with mayawalk). However, after hearing all these stories about things getting broken in the cave, I thought it was rather reckless of the guides to be jumping over the yellow tape to point things out. I think a laser pointer would suffice. I really hope we don't hear some day a guide slipped and broke more stuff in the cave, and now it's off limits to everyone.


Overall mayawalk is OK... I think for the price you're better off going with someone else... or saving a few bucks and going with a cheaper company, because you'll have an amazing time no matter what.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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